Monday, April 12, 2010


In Granada, Spain, one of Europe's multicultural Muslim centers, a young British Muslim woman is found dead at the bottom of a hill. Detective Max Romero has a personal connection to Leila Mahfouz, the victim--besides hoping that he'd eventually convince her to date him, his grandmother had subjected herself to numerous interviews for Leila's postgraduate research into the Spanish Civil War. Was her murder related to her research, which had uncovered some surprising secrets about Spanish resistance? Or is it the work of a Muslim terrorist group the police have been following? Or is the culprit one of the many young men who seem to have been competing for the lovely Leila's attentions?

Although the premise of the book sounded promising, I was a little disappointed with the execution. The ambitious plot of the book is sadly not served very well by the chatty, unfocused Max, who is sallow and spends much of the book drinking wine with various women. Nevertheless, the attention to both the political and racial tensions around the Muslim minority in Spain and the secrets of the Spanish Civil War are interesting. Although I wish the writing had been tighter and a little quicker moving, the subject and story are definitely worthy--this is no run-of-the-mill family-drama murder mystery. Unrelatedly, I was also charmed by the fact that the name "PJ Brooke" is in fact a pen name for a wife/husband writing team.

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